CIO Profile: TfL's Steve Townsend on shared services and internal balance

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Transport for London CIO Steve Townsend is faced with integrating a complex range of business models and stakeholder demands, if the city's transport network is to continue to support the many millions of journeys commuters make every day across it.

Townsend accepts that TfL isn't a unique organisation and that there are certain processes within it that are exactly the same in organisations like the fire service or police force.

Shared service initiativesare a growing trend in the public sector and he thinks this could be explored and adopted, but only where applicable. Going it alone is not out of the question either.

"Although the organisation is undergoing significant change we have to make sure that spending is funded appropriately and so we are focusing on systems that are effective reliable and sustainable," he explains.

In the end, the only real requirement is to satisfy paying customers and Townsend's strategy is focused on drawing whichever IT solutions do that the best.

Gone are the days when TfL created one-size-fits-all systems, he says. The organisation has to be more selective and transparent in its ICT procurement.

"We are very interested in technology that can provide real-time information to customers, like making sure we have direct contact with the public through social media. We want to share our data but we had to make sure that it is secure it has to stay protected," he says.

Corporate governance is high on the agenda for Townsend and he believes this extends to a responsibility to domestic sourcing when thinking about procurement, when TfL has one of the largest pocket-books around.

He knows he can procure technology from anywhere in the globe, but as a regional governmental organisation, TfL needs to be seen to be protecting UK suppliers too.

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